This is your smartphone on feminism

Maria Farrell admits that comparing smartphones to abusive men (they try to keep you from friends and family, they make it hard to study or go to work, they constantly follow you and check up on you) might seem to trivialize domestic partner violence, but, as she points out, feminists have long been pointing out both the literal and metaphorical ways in which tech replicates misogyny. Read the rest

Trump blames LED lightbulbs for making him look orange

Trump wants to roll back regulations that promote low-power light bulbs, even though at this point the industry has moved on and isn't likely to do much in the way of modernizing incandescents. His interest is, as always, deeply personal: he thinks LED lights make him look orange.

“The light bulb,” the president began. “People said what’s with the light bulb. I said here’s the story, and I looked at it. The bulb that we’re being forced to use. No. 1, to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst.”

I like this one because it is true that cheap LED lights tend to emit a poor spectrum of light, even if the bulb itself appears to have a desirable color temperature. It may well be true that some bulbs make him appear orangier than he already is. But if he wasn't so crudely tanned and made-up in the first place, it would never be a problem. Like hurricane-map spaghetti lines, the truth only makes the lie more obvious, and that's what makes the Trump magic happen.

UPDATE: Video.

Read the rest

Paleocomputing watch: Tech magazines cover the BBS scene

The wonderful folks at Paleotronic (previously) have rounded up scans of articles from 1980s-era computer magazines that advised new computer users on navigating the burgeoning world of dial-up BBSes. Read the rest

Tiny gallium nitride laptop chargers are upon us

There's nothing I hate in my bag so much as my laptop charger, a heavy Lenovo-grade brick of black plastic with two thick cables sticking out of each end, invariably forming a coiled knot of nonsense three times larger still. So I ordered this alarmingly small universal charger from RAVpower as soon as I saw that Wirecutter didn't recommend it. It's smaller than an iPad charger, but charges a MacBook Pro or Thinkpad.

The RAVPower also charges the way it should. We ran the RP-PC112 through our standard testing procedures, which include running Total Phase’s USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software. This test tells us the power rates the chargers make available to connected devices, the actual power output observed when they’re connected, and whether any errors occur during charging. The RAVPower passed without issue.

The special sauce in these new power supplies is Gallium Nitride.

USB C Wall Charger, RAVPower 61W PD 3.0 [GaN Tech] Type C Fast Charging Power Delivery Foldable Adapter, Compatible with MacBook Pro/Air, Ipad Pro 2018, iPhone Xs Max/XR/X and More [Amazon] Read the rest

Apple sets date to plop our new iPhones

I spend a lot of time typing shit and talking smack about Apple's recent hardware shortcomings, greasy dealings with authoritarian governments and questionable labor practices. But you know what? The still make my favorite smartphone. I kind of hate myself for that, but here we are.

It's looking like we'll soon have a whole new crop of iPhones to love/covet and loathe as the invitations for this fall's iPhone event have, it would seem, been dispatched on the chamfered wings of a lily white dove.

From The Verge:

Although Apple’s invitation doesn’t explicitly say what the company plans to announce at the event, the rumors suggest we’ll see three new iPhone models, and these will act as successors to the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. Two of these phones are expected to feature Apple’s first triple-camera system on the rear of the device, and the successor to the XS could also have a slightly bigger 6.1-inch display (up from 5.8 inches on the current model).

Another rumor suggests that these iPhones could support bidirectional wireless charging, allowing them to charge AirPods when used with their new wireless charging case. Upgrades to battery life and Face ID biometric security, as well as the use of new shatter-resistance technology have also been suggested.

I tend to ignore any talk of what Apple'll be releasing until it's been trotted out on stage—the world's on fire and careening off into space. So you know, things to do. But I know that lots of people dig playing what if with Cupertino-designed hardware. Read the rest

DOJ approves $26 billion T-Mobile and Sprint deal

Well, it's finally official. After more than a year in regulatory limbo, The United States Justice Department has approved a $26 billion dollar deal between mobile carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. Read the rest

Trump: Apple won't get a tariff break for Mac Pro parts made in China

Donald Trump says his administration will not provide any waivers or relief for Apple Mac Pro components built in China, and said Apple should instead build its products in the U.S. Read the rest

Apple rumored to release 3 new 'iPhone 11' models in Fall 2019

We can expect three new “iPhone 11” models this fall from Apple, according to the official unofficial rumor mill. Each of these is said to be designed with an A13 chip, a Lightning port, and a new 'Taptic Engine' that will replace iPhone's current 3D Touch. Read the rest

The dark truth about mechanical keyboards and gaming

Eurogamer's Will Judd flirts with heresy: "Are mechanical keyboards really good for gaming?"

When it comes to PC gaming peripherals, stats and specs drive purchases. Gaming monitors became popular because they offered lower latency or higher refresh rates, while gaming mice boasted higher sensitivities and improved tracking accuracy. Yet this quantitative trend doesn't seem to apply to one peripheral in particular: mechanical keyboards. No single stat separates mechs from their non-mechanical counterparts, yet mechanical keyboards are routinely recommended over alternatives that cost a fraction of the price. Why is this the case? Are there genuine gaming advantages?

Thankfully, it's just a cunningly-titled top list of models Judd recommends; I have, therefore, titled my linkpost to his listpost with an even more shamelessly clickbaity title.

I do have an opinion, though, that might justify it: it doesn't really matter what mechanical keyboard you get so long as you don't get a cheap one. What's most important is learning which sort of switch suits you best -- linear, tactile, clicky -- and thenceforth completely ignoring the online cult of mechanical keyboards, because you got one to play games, not waste enormous sums of money on custom keycaps and bizarre, barely-functional niche layouts, like I do.

In fact, if you don't even want to think about all that stuff, and simply want to discover a mechanical keyboard that is good for playing games without further ado, allow me to commit fully to the most base and foul heresy and recommend that you just buy whatever Logitech is making right now [Amazon]. Read the rest

Tech analyst claims Apple is giving up on butterfly keyboards

Tim Cook waved goodbye as Jony Ive pulled out of the car lot for the last time. Without dropping the smile, Cook tilted his head at Jeff Williams. "Finally," he whispered though his teeth. "We can fix the fucking keyboards"

Here's Benjamin Mayo, quoting Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple to include new scissor switch keyboard in 2019 MacBook Air and 2020 MacBook Pro

Apple is apparently set to ditch the butterfly mechanism used in MacBooks since 2015, which has been the root of reliability issues and its low-travel design has also not been popular with many Mac users.

In a report published today, Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will roll out a new keyboard design based on scissor switches, offering durability and longer key travel, starting with the 2019 MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is also getting the new scissor switch keyboard, but not until 2020.

The new scissor switch keyboard is a whole new design than anything previously seen in a MacBook, purportedly featuring glass fiber to reinforce the keys. Apple fans who have bemoaned the butterfly keyboard should be optimistic about a return to scissor switches.

Tech analysts are often wrong, but this one reportedly has an unusually good record. Read the rest

Apple considering moving hardware production out of China

The escalating tariff slap-fight between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China is messing with so many bottom lines that the only people playing the market and making bank are those with companies that make red ink in their portfolios. Even Apple, a company that pretty much prints its own damn money, isn't immune. In a week where Chinese telecom and computing giant Huawei declared that they'd be making billions less than forecasted, signs that the fruit flavored phone floggers may be looking to shift their operations away from mainland China have cropped up.

From the Nikkei Asian Review:

Apple has asked its major suppliers to evaluate the cost implications of shifting 15% to 30% of their production capacity from China to Southeast Asia as it prepares for a fundamental restructuring of its supply chain, the Nikkei Asian Review has learned.

The California-based tech giant's request was triggered by the protracted trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, but multiple sources say that even if the spat is resolved there will be no turning back. Apple has decided the risks of relying so heavily on manufacturing in China, as it has done for decades, are too great and even rising, several people told Nikkei.

The Nikkei Asian Review goes on to talk up the fact that a slowing birthrate, concerns over dependency on centralized production in one locale and rising labor costs are a part of driving Apple's wandering industrial eyes to look on over yonder. Read the rest

A new AI tool from Adobe can detect Photoshopped faces

We presume it can tell by the pixels.

$999 monitor stand explained

This alarmingly funny video shows an "Apple Engineer" explaining the company's forthcoming $999 monitor stand. This guy is better than the "Downfall" meme!

Also funny: to see people who had complained vocally about Apple's lack of truly "pro" gear denouncing it when it finally came along, because it was too pro. Perhaps Apple should have made a promotional video shamelessly explaining the stand and its veblen-tech price. People would have hated it, all the same, but at least it would have been clear who the customer was.

If by "pro" we didn't mean that kind of "corporate buyer" level, what does it mean? That fuzzy-edged class of designers, developers and "creatives" often identified as Apple fans?

Here's one way of looking at it: if you're all in for Apple and were waiting to spend $2500 on a modular computer to edit photos or book designs or write beautifully-typeset articles or the simple code that generates them—people like me!—Apple's answer to that is no. We can get a non-modular iMac, or we can get a Mac Mini with an eGPU and external monitor for the specialized work that requires those things.

If someone sold an eGPU that actually matches the Mac Mini (they're all either huge ugly PCI-slotted toasters or plasticy MXM-slotted bricks) I bet they'd clean up.

Hell, I'd be all in for a pro version with XLR connectors, phantom power—and maybe a SCSI port or two. Read the rest

U.S. will examine 2016 North Carolina poll books for election hacking

Finally. It's been almost 3 years.

Trump approved Saudi Arabia nuclear technology permits twice after Khashoggi murder

The approvals show "President Trump's eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want," said Sen.Tim Kaine (D-VA)

Developers sue Apple over App Store practices

The lawsuit seeks 'fairer profit, for developers’ digital products.'

Oculus Quest and Rift S now shipping

Oculus Quest, the so-called 'iPod of VR', is now shipping.

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